Fight Traffic Ticket in DelawarePage Overview
After receiving a DE traffic ticket, you can choose the voluntary assessment option and pay your fine, or you can plead not guilty and fight the ticket in court.
NOTE: Some drivers are required to appear in court. When this is the case, a mandatory court appearance date is printed on the citation.
(Choose Voluntary Assessment)
- Pay the fine.
- Accumulate driving record points.
- Use defensive driving course to offset driving record points and get an auto insurance discount.
Learn more about
Paying your Traffic Ticket »
(Plead Not Guilty)
- Contest the ticket during a hearing.
- Hire a traffic ticket lawyer or represent yourself.
- Participate in the Probation Before Judgment Program (if eligible).
- Possibly forfeit the opportunity to avoid points.
- Face no penalties if found not guilty.
- Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).
Learn more below
Fighting your DE traffic ticket means going before a judge and presenting testimony, evidence, and perhaps even witnesses that prove your innocence. Some drivers choose to hire traffic ticket lawyers to represent them during their hearings.
If the judge finds you not guilty, you won’t have to pay the citation fine and you won’t incur points on your driving record; however, if the judge finds you guilty, you’ll have to pay the fine, your record might accumulate points (it depends on the violation), and you could face an increase in auto insurance rates.
Some drivers―especially those who know they’re guilty―choose the state’s voluntary assessment option and pay their ticket fines. Generally, this is the quickest option, allowing drivers to make payments online, over the phone, or by other convenient means.
Learn more about how you can pay your traffic ticket and avoid court.
Avoid Additional Charges
If you don’t appear in court on the date of your scheduled hearing, you face an arrest warrant and driver's license suspension. This applies whether you requested a hearing, or your citation indicates that a court appearance is required. (When this is the case, the hearing date is printed on the ticket.)
Find Your Court
You will handle your ticket in one of three types of courts throughout Delaware:
- Alderman’s Courts.
- Courts of Common Pleas.
- Justice of the Peace Courts.
- State of Delaware - Voluntary Assessment Center
- PO Box 7039
- Dover, DE 19903
The court depends on where you received the ticket, but fortunately most DE citations include this information.
If you’re not sure which court is handling your ticket, contact the Voluntary Assessment Center at (302) 739-6911. Even though you’re contesting the ticket, the Voluntary Assessment Center can help you retrieve this information.
Inform the Court
To inform the court of your not guilty plea is sign the appropriate line on your citation and mail it to the Voluntary Assessment Center at:
Once you send the ticket back, call the Center at (302) 739-6911 to confirm it arrived. You will then receive a court date, time, and location.
NOTE: If you’re required to follow any other procedure for notifying your court of your not guilty plea, your citation will provide instructions.
Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing
Contact the Voluntary Assessment Center or your court to request a rescheduled hearing date.
Whether you’re fighting your traffic ticket by choice or your court appearance is required, consider hiring a traffic ticket lawyer to help you navigate the legal system.
An attorney experienced with Delaware’s traffic laws can help you prepare your case, prove your innocence, or negotiate the best possible deal.
To prepare for your case:
- Practice your testimony.
- Gather any evidence of your innocence.
- Determine whether you will have witnesses. (These might require subpoenas.)
- Locate your ticket and proof of insurance. (You must present these in court.)
- Talk with your attorney about any possible plea deals (if desired).
Preparing for your traffic hearing might sound easy, but these steps require time and attention. Make sure you and your attorney begin as soon as possible.
As long as you and your traffic ticket attorney make the above preparations (as well as any additional preparations your lawyer may deem necessary), your hearing should be fairly straightforward.
The judge will view evidence and hear testimony from you and your witnesses, as well as from the ticketing officer, and make a decision.
Generally, if you’re found not guilty you can leave court. The court will make you aware of any applicable court costs, and you’ll be responsible for your hired attorney fees.
If you’re found guilty, the court will make you aware of the fines and penalties you face.
Probation Before Judgment Program
During your hearing (or while you and your attorney are preparing your case), you might hear about the Probation Before Judgment Program.
This program involves being placed on probation and following the conditions of that probation before receiving judgment. Generally, if you meet the probation conditions, you won’t receive a conviction and or driving record points.
Eligibility for the Program is extremely limited and at the court’s discretion, but you cannot participate if:
- You’ve been convicted of the same offense in the past.
- You’ve participated in the program within the last five years.
Filing an Appeal
Regardless of which court you start out in, you can file an appeal with the Court of Common Pleas within 15 days of receiving a guilty verdict; however, if you started with a Justice of the Peace Court, you can file an appeal only if your guilty verdict carries a fine of more than $100 or jail time.
Per Delaware’s point system, incurring too many driving record points can lead to license suspension. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye on your record.
After you receive your verdict, check your driving record to make sure:
- No points were added to your record (if you were found not guilty).
- Only the applicable number of points were added to your record (if you were found guilty).
Delaware offers drivers the opportunity to get auto insurance discounts by enrolling in state-approved defensive driving courses; however, these discounts aren’t always enough for some drivers―especially those who experience rate increases due to guilty verdicts.
For those drivers, comparing auto insurance rates online and finding a more affordable policy is often the best course of action.Other Topics in This Section